OCEAN CITY — With all of the Ocean City Police Department’s front line officers and supervisors now equipped with Tasers, the program has reached fruition and is now exceeding the desired results.
During his report to the Mayor and Council on Monday, OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro presented the Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW), or Taser, report for October. For the last three years or so, Ocean City has piecemeal-funded new Tasers for the OCPD and now all officers and front-line supervisors are carrying the electronic weapons designed to dissolve certain incidents. Buzzuro told the council on Monday his top lieutenants have been praising the Taser program for its role in reducing injuries to police officers and to suspects as well in certain cases.
“It really has paid dividends,” he said. “It has worked even better than we anticipated. It has proven to be a very valuable tool for us.”
The OCPD has been utilizing the Tasers to varying degrees since 2012 with some times of the year more active than others. Buzzuro said there were four incidents in October during which OCPD officers utilized Tasers for different situations.
In one incident, police responded to an active fight between two suspects and found the intoxicated combatants brawling on the sidewalk. The responding officer ordered the two suspects to stop fighting and targeted them with his CEW. One suspect immediately complied, but the second suspect got up and attempted to flee on foot.
The officer gave chase and tackled the suspect, ultimately placing him under arrest without having to deploy the CEW. In that incident, the mere threat of the CEW stopped the fight and caused the first suspect to comply immediately with the officer’s commands. In that case, the investigation revealed one suspect had pulled a knife on the other, which resulted in the fight.
In another incident in October, police responded to a trespassing complaint involving an intoxicated suspect. While officers were detaining the trespassing suspect, another intoxicated individual approached the scene and began to interfere with the OCPD investigation. After refusing to leave the scene, the suspect began to argue with police, and when OCPD officers attempted to arrest him, he physically resisted. In that incident, one of the responding officers displayed his CEW and produced a warning arc, gaining compliance.
In yet another case from October, an OCPD officer observed an intoxicated suspect attempting to operate a motor vehicle in a parking lot. The officer approached the suspect and detected a strong odor of alcohol. The suspect admitted to driving while intoxicated, but was uncooperative and refused to perform any field sobriety tests.
When the officer attempted to detain the suspect on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the suspect physically resisted arrest. The officer then deployed his CEW into the suspect’s back, which gained temporary compliance until the weapon’s cycle completed. When the first cycle completed, the suspect continued to resist and the officer deployed his CEW a second time, which gained full compliance.
Finally, in another incident in October, an OCPD was forced to deploy his CEW to diffuse a domestic situation. The officer was dispatched to a reported fight in progress involving an intoxicated male assaulting a female victim. Upon arrival, the officer observed the suspect dragging the victim by her shirt. The officer targeted the suspect twice with his CEW before gaining full compliance.